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THE    ART    OF    LIVING                   321
had for breakfast or what Paoyu had at midnight.   Cheng Panch'iao apotheosized rice congee in his letter to his brother:
On cold days, when poor relatives or friends arrive, first hand them a bowl of fried rice in boiling water, with a small dish of ginger or pickles. It is the most effective means of wanning up old people and the poor- In your days of leisure, swallow cakes made of broken rice, or cook "slipslop congee/' and hold the bowl between your two hands and eat it with shrugged shoulders. On a cold frosty morning, this will make your whole body warm* Alas! Alas! I think I'll become a farmer for the remainder of my days!
The Chinese accept food as they accept sex, women and life in general. No great English poet or writer would condescend to write a Cook Book, which they regard as belonging outside the realms of literature and worthy of the efforts of Aunt Susan only. But the great poet-dramatist Li Liweng did not consider it beneath his dignity to write about the cooking of mushrooms and all kinds of vegetarian and non-vegetarian foods. Another great poet and scholar, Yuan Mei, wrote a whole book on cooking, besides writing a most wonderful essay on his cook. He described his cook as Henry James described the English butler, as a man carrying himself with dignity and understanding in his profession. But H. G. Wells, who of all English minds is the one most likely to write about English food, evidently cannot write it, and no hope is to be expected from the less encyclopaedic minds. Anatole France was the type that might have left us some wonderful recipe for frying calf's liver or cooking mushrooms, possibly in his intimate letters, but I doubt very much whether he has left it as part of his literary heritage.
Two principles distinguish Chinese from European cooking. One is that we eat food for its texture, the elastic or crisp effect it has on our teeth, as well for fragrance, flavour and colour. Li Liweng said that he was a slave to crabs, because they had the combination of fragrance, flavour and colour. The idea of texture is seldom understood, but a great part of the popularity of bamboo-shoots is due to the fine resistance the young shoots give to our teeth The appreciation of bamboo-shoots is